Laughter Is the Best Medicine: It Starts with a Smile

"Laughter is the best medicine," I couldn’t agree more with this saying. It may even be a bit cliché at this point. However, it still holds quite true. If you are feeling down, forcing yourself to smile or laugh can turn your mood around.

Just the other day, Melissa and I almost had a “loss of bodily function” laughing moment.  We were watching past episodes of Saturday Night Live and found the one starring Owen Wilson. There’s a skit called “Star Trek, Ego Quest.”  It’s a portrayal of some of the world’s billionaires and their recent space missions. We felt like a heavy load was taken off of us after watching.  Definitely worth looking up!

If you are in need of a pick-me-up, it can be difficult to “get the ball rolling.” It’s easy to stay stuck in a depressed mood.  This is the very moment when you should force yourself to seek out comedic relief.  It can be a funny friend, a comedy performance/movie, or a funny book. You can even watch funny animal clips on YouTube.  

No one can truly be happy 100% of the time. If you are unhappy more than you are happy, it could be time to seek the help of a therapist. But, part of your therapy could very well be to incorporate laughter. Just going back and revisiting memories of funny events is all that’s necessary.

One of the memories I turn to was the day my friend Ralph and I were at a landscaping job doing a fall cleanup. We were working right along and Ralph’s pitchfork hit an object. He had impaled the arm of an old scarecrow which subsequently emerged from the ground. All Ralph said was: “I see dead people.” I still laugh hysterically at this memory. I know, dark humor. 

Moving on, there are clinics that promote laughing as part of the group. It entails gathering in a circle and forcibly laughing while the group participates. It seems strange to outsiders, but participants are proponents of this method. They experience feelings of elation after the sessions. Additionally, many say they make great friends in the process.

There is no set formula for achieving a state of laughter. Each person is different so use whatever works for you!   

Laughter can help lower stress by releasing endorphins in your brain which are responsible for you feeling good. It is even believed to help in producing antibodies which can fight disease. This could be how the phrase laughter is the best medicine came about.

You may feel strange yourself early on when incorporating laughter into your routine. But, even if it is forced, as you do more you'll get more used to it, and it will stop feeling strange over time. You will have the tools you need to change your mood. After a while, you will find yourself laughing for real rather than forcing it.

Laughter is the best medicine because it will improve your general outlook on life. People with whom you associate will also take notice and want to hang out with you more. Give it a try for a consistent period. Notice the changes that you experience in your feelings.

It is likely you will never go back to the way it was. While no one can guarantee that laughter will make you live longer, it won’t hurt you in any manner.  

Halloween is approaching.  I hope you see a scarecrow and let the laughter rip. ~Ted     


Laughter Is the Best Medicine: Why You Should Laugh more Often ~parts adapted via 

Laughter is the best medicine: When was the last time you had a really good laugh? 

The scientific definition of laughing is a “successive, rhythmic, spasmodic expiration with open glottis and vibration of the vocal cords, often accompanied by baring of the teeth and facial expression.” That doesn’t begin to tell the story of what laughing does for us, however. The bottom line is that laughing is medically beneficial. 

Laughter establishes or restores a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together – the more social a person is and the more social support a person receives, the more likely that laughter will result from that social connection. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your relationships. 

Laughter is the best medicine: What are the Physical Effects of Laughing? 

Laughing makes people feel good for a reason. Studies have shown that laughter boosts the immune system and triggers the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain. The immune system, which contains special cells that are responsible for defending the body against infection, have been shown to increase during the act of laughing. In the central nervous system, the brain releases powerful endorphins as a result of laughing. Endorphins are natural, morphine-like compounds that raise the pain threshold, produce sedation and induce euphoria (commonly called a “natural high”.) In other words, we feel better when we laugh because endorphins reduce physical and mental pain. While this may be a wonderful feeling, laughing has other benefits as well:

  • During a laugh, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure temporarily rise. This causes oxygen to surge through the bloodstream that then results in lower blood pressure.  
  • Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. 
  • Laughter reduces pain and allows toleration of discomfort.  Laughter reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike. 
  • Laughter relaxes the whole body, relieving tension and stress. It has been shown that following a good, hearty laugh, muscles in the body are relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterward.
  • Laughing burns calories – laughter is sometimes referred to as “inner jogging”. A hearty laugh gives the muscles of the face, chest, shoulders, stomach and diaphragm a good workout. 

Laughter is the best medicine because it also helps to create a positive mood. It allows the expression of happiness and the release of anxiety. Humor eases tension and is a great antidote to a stressful situation. Laughter is often seen as a temporary vacation from everyday problems, bringing us to a paradise in which worries do not exist. Humor and laughter are natural safety valves that shut off certain hormones that are released during stressful situations. In fact, your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.

Laughter is the best medicine - Here are some ways to bring more humor and laughter into your life: 

Smile: Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling! 

Count your blessings: Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter! 

When you hear laughter, move toward it: People are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feel the humor in it. When individuals hear laughter, they seek it out and ask “What’s funny?” 

Spend time with fun, playful people: These are people who laugh easily, both at themselves and at life’s absurdities and who routinely find humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious!! 

Bring humor into conversations: Ask people: What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?  

Laugh at yourself: Share your embarrassing moments. 

Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them: Look for the humor in a bad situation, the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you. 

Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up: Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family having fun. 

Keep things in perspective: Many things are beyond our control, so make the best of a situation and find the positive in the situation.

Deal with stress: Stress is major impediment to humor and laughter. 

Pay attention to children and emulate them: They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly and laughing!! 

Here is a simple prescription for a healthy life: Thirty minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis. 

The bottom line – laughter is the best medicine on the market today:)

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